Describe what you do on a day-to-day basis.
My job varies daily, based on deadlines and priorities. I’m responsible for overseeing our entire department (by myself), so I have a lot on my plate. On some days, I teach an online course on how to effectively communicate science. Others I spend writing articles and blog posts about all things outreach and communication. I have lots of teleconferences with my committee of volunteers to plan and organize our programming. I also work a lot with the rest of the staff here at the ASBMB to help plan our annual meeting, come up with social media strategies, and develop opportunities for our members.
How did you find your first job out of academia?
I was intent on getting a job in science policy out of grad school, so I started by taking policy classes as a graduate student to prepare myself. Once I was ready, I realized that most of the starting jobs in this field are fellowships. I applied for several (including AAAS, American Academy of Arts and Sciences, CSTEP, etc.), and the job I ended up landing was with the ASBMB, which offers a year-long policy fellowship through our Public Affairs department.
What is your favorite part of your current job?
Getting to interact with scientists from across the country (and even some from other countries) and helping them to interact with non-scientists, whether it be through presenting at a science café, organizing a visit to a K-12 class, displaying science artwork, or any other outlet.
What are the unique challenges of this line of work?
Outreach and communication are topics that are often mis-understood or even ignored, so getting people to buy in to our programs is the hardest part of my job. I also work with a lot of volunteers, which is a challenge since this is not one of their top priorities.
Tell us about your academic background.
As an undergrad, I studied the behavior of lipids in model cell membranes using spectroscopic techniques.
In graduate school, I analyzed the effect of extracellular matrix proteins (which are the … intracellular space) on the behavior of embryonic stem cells.
What is one piece of advice you would give to someone looking for a job now?
Figure out what you want to do before you start looking. It will make your search that much easier, and make you a better candidate.